Before and After: A Surprising Amateur-Designed Kitchen

Zachary Leung’s Toronto kitchen was recently declared the 2017 Remodelista Considered Design Awards Best Amateur Kitchen, and it’s not hard to see why. He lovingly converted this 130-year-old dark and awkward room into a space that’s somehow both timeless and of-the-moment, with room for entertaining, laundry, and cleverly concealed storage. It’s hard to believe this was designed by someone who doesn’t do interior design full-time for a living.

The results are rustic and refined, and a stunning study in black and white. The white cabinets, oversized subway tiles, marble island, chairs, and walls are balanced by black stools, hutch, handles, table, and light fixtures, and the entire room is warmed up by the wooden floor, terracotta pots, plant life, and proudly displayed cookbooks. Also, in the original layout, the refrigerator stuck out like a sore thumb, but now it is neatly in line with the stove, sink, and counter.

Here’s what Zachary had to say:

…given the more traditional styling of the exterior of the house itself, I still wanted to incorporate some more classic and traditional elements. Using a rustic black hutch served to counterbalance the more modern white high-gloss cabinets. Sticking with a black-and-white scheme ensured that the classic color combo would stand the test of time.

The beauty of the island—in addition to that to-die-for Carrara marble, of course—is that it can serve as an out-of-the-kitchen spot to seat guests who would like to chat with Zachary while he cooks, but can also accommodate four diners comfortably—on classic black stools.

I love both modern and traditional styles, and the project as a whole reflects that about me. I’m happy that I managed to blend these opposite styles harmoniously…

The star of this kitchen is probably the enormous floor-to-ceiling black hutch, a piece that fits so perfectly into the space that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t custom-made. It adds a lovely bit of antique feel to this modern kitchen and provides a great balance of display and hidden storage. May we all be so lucky in our decorating finds!

Here’s what Zachary had to say about his win:

It’s definitely a boost of confidence, knowing that many others enjoy the finishes and design that I picked, especially since I feel like I took a bit of a risk in mixing styles and finishes.

Thank you, Zachary, for letting us share your photos and thoughts! Readers, if you liked this, check out the other finalists in Remodelista’s Best Amateur Kitchen category.

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